Unlocking ADHD writer Constance Thum explores the potential challenges that ADHD children may face at a new school, and how parents can get their ADHD children ready for school.
When children start school for the first time, they may feel excitement alongside anxiety – especially if they have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). They may be unsure if they will be able to manage their condition in school.
Reasons for anxiety among ADHD children may include:
- Unfamiliarity with the school system as new students
- Insecurity about making new friends
Aside from socio-emotional challenges, ADHD children may face learning difficulties because of symptoms such as inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Thus, parents play an important part in helping their ADHD children to start school on the right note.
It is always useful to have an idea of what to expect in a new situation so that we can prepare for it. Below are some of the common challenges that children with ADHD may face at school. Knowing this ahead of time helps you to mentally prepare your child and also head off potential issues before they start.
- Falling behind lessons, learning at a slower pace, and poor grades
- Defiance and getting into trouble with teachers
- Being distracted and disruptive during lessons
- Inability to make friends
- Bullying and ostracism by other children
- Violence and aggression towards other students
- Persistent crying and emotional outbursts
Tips for Starting School
The weeks before the start of the school term may be filled with tears, emotional meltdowns and unrest for many ADHD children. To prepare their children for school, parents could consider the following tips:
- Going over the school syllabus with your child to give them a head start before school opens
- Researching and collecting resources on improving the learning efficacy of children with ADHD
- Teaching your child tips on effective communication
- Setting clear rules on appropriate, non-aggressive behaviour at school
- Having open, supportive discussions with your child that validate their concerns and give them assurance about starting school
- Guiding your child on calming themselves during anxious episodes
- Therapy and counselling for ADHD children with persistent, overwhelming socio-emotional issues at school
Other Support Networks
Before school begins, parents can share about their child’s condition with the child’s teachers. This may be useful in fostering an inclusive, supportive, welcoming environment for new students with ADHD (read more).
During the school term, parents can meet with teachers to monitor their children’s academic and socio-emotional progress at school. It may benefit ADHD children if their parents, teachers and/or school counsellors are able to collaborate on specific goals and devise age- appropriate behavioural plans. Such strategies may help ADHD children to manage their symptoms and achieve a better school experience.
Families with ADHD children may also consider forming support groups and networks with other ADHD families and/or families with non-ADHD children. These support groups may allow ADHD children to socialise better with their peers, and parents may find comfort in the company of other families facing similar issues. Unlocking ADHD has a private Facebook Support Community and also Virtual Support Groups for Families. You can also join Spark Singapore to connect with other parents who have ADHD children.
Overall, school is an important and pivotal chapter in the lives of children that may contribute to their intellectual, social, and emotional development. To help ADHD children adjust to the requirements of school, parents, teachers, doctors, and the children themselves should all be involved in creating structured plans to resolve potential challenges at school. Unlocking the potential of ADHD children begins by giving them hope through encouraging words and concrete action plans to conquer setbacks at home and in school.
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